Alexander Ovechkin scored 65 goals in 2007-08, netted over 50 goals 6 times, banked 46 in 97 playoff games, and in 13 seasons has never reached the conference finals. The Washington Capitals have surrounded him with all the pieces to win Lord Stanley's Cup such as elite talent, coaches, and free agents. So what curse is hovering over him, is it the players fault, the GM's fault, or do we blame "The Sports Gods"?
What forces are at work for players who can take over games during the regular season but lose consistently in the playoffs, and join that list of great players to never win a title. There are stars in every sport where the stars didn't align for them to win it all and join that list such as Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Barry Sanders, Dan Marino, Ty Cobb, Ken Griffey Jr., Marcel Dionne, and Eric Lindros. These athletes DOMINATED, changed the game, and were "beasts." Some of them stayed married to their teams until the very end, some were traded to a contender, almost like handing them a ring on a silver platter, but they still ended their careers on that list.
And by what design does a team keep the faith through the incessantly negative media and fans to keep a player that makes the other list of those who won it all. The Broncos stuck with John Elway for 15 years, FIFTEEN YEARS, before he won the first of two Super Bowls. It took Yzerman 13 years and adding Brendan Shanahan to win in Detroit, Dirk Nowitzki took 13 years in Dallas, and the great Walter Payton needed 11 years to win the Super Bowl. The opposite is also true, where role players join the other list and win multiple rings on different teams like Justin Williams, Lonnie Smith, Bill Romanowski, and Robert Horry.
Washington Capitals' general manager, Brian MacLellan, has to make the catch 22 decision of what to do with "The Great 8." There's no doubt he will listen to offers for Ovechkin now. But the biggest factor is Ovechkin would have to waive his no-trade clause and owner Ted Leonsis would have to be persuaded that it's the right thing to do. Here are eight teams Ovechkin would consider waiving his NMC for and seven he wouldn't.
15 Want - The New York Rangers
This would be tricky but where there's a will there's a way. The Rangers are as desperate and confused as any team, and they will not, I repeat, will not win a cup anytime soon. They must deal Henrik Lunqvist to a real contender to free cap space, and then trade Ryan McDonough, and Mats Zucarello or Derek Stepan, plus a top flight prospect for Ovie. Number 8 would love New York and his outgoing personality and game would liven up the Garden during the dog days of Winter. The deal would escalate their rivalry to the old Patrick Division days, rejuvenate #8, and this would be must watch hockey. His wife, Nastya, would also be happy as the move would advance her modeling career and introduce them to the glamour and popularity New York offers.
14 Not want - Colorado Avalanche
Though the fans and team would do a lot more goal celebrating, the Avs have a better chance of Peter Forsberg returning than landing Ovechkin. They could put together a heck of a package, but Ovie is already starting to grey and would soon turn all white playing in Denver. He'd age in dog years and the Avs wouldn't be able to surround him with talent. Ovie and Nastya would love Vail, Aspen, and Denver, but their social life and popularity would be limited. Plus, Ovie would have to do so much, maybe even play goal, that his career would be over in three years. No, the Avs are better off going young, accumulating draft picks, and paying up for younger UFAs, particularly adding to their blue line.
13 Want - Los Angeles Kings
This works on so many levels: the money is close enough to work and the deal helps both teams. We know the the Kings are done winning cups and should start rebuilding. By bringing in Ovechkin, the fans will continue to come, the team will remain exciting, and end the season with a record just poor enough for consecutive mid level picks. But the main point is Alex and Nastya would be the most exciting couple to hit L.A in years.
Ovie also loves modeling as shown by his numerous shirtless photos on the internet, and he and Nastya could roller blade along the beach, go surfing, sit court side at Lakers' games, and maybe make it in T.V. Obviously, the Kings would need to trade one of their top two centers to make the deal work, which would be fine for Washington, as they'd love to get stronger up the middle. Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter in a deal for Ovechkin is very intriguing for both teams.
12 Not Want - Arizona Coyotes
Max Domi alone would get the wheels turning and adding a player like Anthony Duclair or even a high pick could get this done. The Yotes would have to depart with so much of the youth they're building around, they'd become instantly worse than Colorado. The other problem is Ovie would never go for it. His family would love the weather, but there isn't enough for him to be interested and he and his wife would be bored, bored, and bored. The Ovechkins will consider their lifestyle and if it's a hockey city, but Arizona just doesn't fit. People can say what they want about Ovie, but he plays hard every night, and the his efforts would be a waste in the desert.
11 Want - Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers would need to hire Joe Banner to rework the cap, but The Hockey Gods would jump on the ice for a bench clearer for this deal to occur. Ovie would probably renegotiate his deal because he loves Ivan Provorov, the Flyers have a handful of young Russians knocking on the team's door, and there are few teams with such a nasty rivalry with the Caps. Would Travis Sanheim plus a player and or pick get this done? It would, and can you imagine not only the new Flyers vs. Caps rivalry but the Flyers vs. Penguins as well? Many fans believe there is a hockey conspiracy theory, and if this happens it would be proof. Ovie would love playing in Philadelphia, the fans would love his game and intensity, and it wouldwin over even the least interested fans.
10 Not Want - New York Islanders
This is probably the only team in the East he wouldn't play for, and that includes Carolina. Any athlete that wants to play for Garth Snow, or a franchise without a home or identity, needs help. The fans are dizzy, the Brooklyn uniforms are ugly, and the players aren't supported by management. Not even the fact the Ovechkins can live, be seen, and take advantage of the Manhattan life style is persuading enough. This is a general managers nightmare and would cause MacLellan to cry because Snow would probably offer Lee, Leddy, and two number ones, but it won't happen. Even if Ovie would have the chance of playing with John Tavares, the pieces just don't add up for Ovie.
9 Want - KHL - HC CSKA Moscow
MacLellan better think and act quickly because it's not far-fetched. He's going to be 32, Kovalchuk and Radulov among others did it, and Ovie might just be fed up enough to go back home. He's saying he was hurt during the Penguins' series but EVERYONE was hurt and Crosby was concussed. The simple truth is the best team won, and seeing Ovie brush by Sidney in the handshake line showed a defeated man.
Though there have been great battles between the two, how much more can the poor man take? Going home and playing in-front of his beloved countrymen might be the escape and life style change he needs. As many Russian players know, and would surely be in the back of his mind, they can always return to the NHL. You also have to consider that the thing Ovie wants the most next year is to play in the Olympics, with the NHL already saying their players won't go. One way for Ovie to go would be to take a year off from the NHL and play in the KHL.
8 Not Want - Minnesota Wild
A deal could be had between the Wild and Caps, but Ovechkin would't want to play in Minnesota. Though it's a great hockey market and he'd love the attention and lifestyle, he doesn't fit with what the Wild are doing. First, things didn't work out between him and head coach Bruce Boudreau last time around. Second, the Wild also kill it during the regular season and blow it during the playoffs, and third, the Wild don't play a wide open, skating game, where #8 thrives. He would just be playing for the same type of team he left, which is exactly the situation he needs to avoid.
You also have to remember that Minnesota doesn't have the cap space to make this work, as both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are on long term contracts with insane cap hits.
7 Want - Montreal Canadiens
This could happen too. Montreal needs to go for it now and they're starving for goals. But could they go for it one last time and offer a package of Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher? Let the negotiations begin, but it just has to happen before Alexander Radulov signs elsewhere. Imagine Ovie wearing red, white, and blue, but in the frenzied city of Montreal. His family would love the culture, architecture, history, nightlife, and fashion.
The hockey gods would open bottles of champagne, the fans and media would be in hysterics, and new photos would emerge of Ovie parting the Fleuve Saint-Laurent. Ovechkin has always said how much he loves playing in Montreal and adding Ovechkin might not solve the Habs' need for a no.1 center, but it sure would add some elite talent.
6 Not want - Winnipeg Jets
Just as Ovie would love playing in Montreal or Toronto, Winnipeg wouldn't be high on his list. They have players that could get a deal done, but they'd have to tear apart what they already have. The Jets are not that far off from contending if they add a goalie, and some quality depth, becuase they have some skaters. Though the insanely crazed hockey faithful would have flashbacks to Teemu Selanne, it would be a mistake for both. Plus, they already have a youngster in Patrik Laine, who has already drawn comparisons to Ovechkin. Why trade for a player on the wrong side of 30?
Ovie and his wife need the limelight, they need the action, and wouldn't be happy. Neither would the fans be thrilled with all the pieces or picks they'd lose. Acquiring another "Great 8" would be a possibility if he were a free agent, but he's not.
5 Want - Anaheim Ducks
With the Ducks falling short yet again in the playoffs, GM Bob Murray's patience with his group might be wearing thin. Would Murray consider breaking up the core of Getzlaf and Perry with Perry going to Washington in a deal for Ovie?
It works money and position wise, and Ovie would flourish along side any of their centers. His physical game would blend perfectly as well, and the Ducks who lack a forward with a booming shot, would solve that problem. Perry should also bounce back surrounded by Caps who love passing and playing the perimeter, allowing him to crash the net and score the ugly goals they desperately need. It seems like both the Ducks and Caps need to shake something up to reach the next level and Ovie would definitely take the chance to play in California.
4 Not Want - Dallas Stars
Two words end this speculation, Ken Hitchcock. Though Dallas could propose any number of deals that make sense, say Seguin for Ovechkin, the problem is Ovie's game doesn't flourish in defensive systems. It didn't work with Barry Trotz, in terms of letting the #8 horse run, and it definitely won't work with Hitch. He will depend on Jamie Benn as his go to guy. Hitch also doesn't like to build top heavy lines and likes to deepen the lineup by moving guys up and down. Ovie doesn't like experimentation, prefers a set line, and wants to be "the man." Hitch also plays his favorites, has a pecking order of "his guys" he trusts, and they're not always the superstar. This definitely wouldn't work for either party.
3 Want - Edmonton Oilers
Imagine Ovechkin with McDavid. WOW! Edmonton needs guys that combine skill and toughness, and not players who boast one of those characteristics, which is why the Ducks beat them and will beat them again. Edmonton solves that problem here. The Caps get younger, fill holes in their soon to be depleted lineup, and can start their rebuild. It would also broaden the hockey world to Washington fans because as their team works it out, they'd be watching and following Ovechkin in orange and blue.
While playing with Backstrom is a treat, Ovechkin could threaten for 60 goals a season playing next to McDavid. The only issue would be how would the Oilers make a trade work without sacrificing their core of Draisaitl, Nurse or Larsson? If the Oilers could make it work though, Ovie would surely have to realize what he could be a part of.
2 Not want - Pittsburgh Penguins
At one point, if it isn't already in the back of his mind, Malkin will get tired as being seen as the 2nd best player on the Penguins and want to prove he can win it on his own. Again, to the great disappointment of fans all over the world, the only reason a Malkin for Ovechkin deal doesn't get done is Ovie would never, ever play with Sidney. Spite is a terrible human quality, but in hockey it's essential, and Ovie would stare daggers all season long at #87. Also, why in the world would the Pens do this?
Even winning the cup would hurt Alex, because of the inevitable questions about if he'd have ever won it without Sidney. Vengeance, another negative human quality but justified in hockey, would keep this from coming true. Could anyone imagine Sidney handing the cup to Ovie and their eyes meeting? Alex would probably refuse it.
1 Want - Chicago Blackhawks
This is proof sports writers can be geniuses. Count on Stan Bowman calling to inquire about Ovechkin, MacLellan stating he wants Kane, and there being a looooong pause. It will start as a hypothetical scenario, and both MacLellan and Bowman will wonder what they started. It fits in every way possible. Both teams want to refresh, both are getting superstars, and both would reinvigorate and excite the fans and the hockey world. Imagine the Weber for Subban trade multiplied by 100, and it quite possibly would be the biggest trade in NHL history, eclipsing the Gretzky to L.A deal.
The Ovechkins would love Chicago and probably buy matching fur coats. This deal would be watched all season long, and everyone would be anticipating a Blackhawks vs. Capitals Stanley Cup Final. Now that's fun, and The Hockey Gods would even wear teal jerseys to celebrate.